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Updated: Wed, 11 Jun 2014 10:50:50 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Justin Trudeau wants government 'open by default'



Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau speaks with the media following caucus Wednesday May 14, 2014 in Ottawa. Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau speaks with the media following caucus Wednesday May 14, 2014 in Ottawa. Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says government should be "open by default," and is tabling a bill in Parliament to make information from Ottawa more accessible.

Trudeau says Canada's information commissioner should have a mandate to enforce access-to-information laws and that requests for such information should cost only the initial $5 application fee.

Trudeau also said the board of internal economy, the committee of MPs that meets in secret to decide on House administration issues like some spending, should meet in public.

The Liberal leader's bill is a private member's bill, which takes longer to pass and usually has less chance of becoming law because it won't necessarily be supported by the party with the most seats in the House.

But Trudeau said the bill isn't in the hands of the government.

"It is in the hands of individual members of Parliament from all parties," he told reporters Wednesday.

"The ability of a citizen to access information on what a government is doing with their tax dollars, in their name, is one of the fundamental tenets of building confidence around government."

Trudeau said the information commissioner now acts as an ombudsman and has to take the government to court if it refuses to release information that she believes should be made public.

The commissioner should be able to direct civil servants to release records, Trudeau said, and if civil servants aren't sure whether something falls under an exception, they should automatically release it.

"What we're proposing as a principle is that if the government disagrees that they should be releasing something, they should be able to challenge the information commissioner's order to release in court," he said.

"It shifts the onus of proving confidentiality or exceptions to the rule ... onto government rather than onto the information commissioner, which I think is in keeping with what a lot of other jurisdictions have done."

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